Monday, 24 January 2011

National Day of Protest

Today is a big day for the sick and disabled.

It is the second National Day of Protest against the cuts sick and disabled people now face.

The emphasis is on ATOS Origin, the company responsible for the astonishingly unsuitable medical testing of disability and sickness benefits. At their headquarters in London, Triton Square, and at offices in Edinburgh, Leeds, Tyneside and Burnley, sick, disabled and able-bodied protesters will raise awareness about exactly why the system was not fit for purpose before the Conservative-led coalition ever came to power and simply cannot take any more strain. ATOS uses "medical professionals" to assess whether someone is sick enough or disabled enough to receive state support, but they aren't doctors or nurses. They are paid on results, incentivised to find us miraculously fit for work. The assessments are demeaning and frightening too, and sick and disabled people find them so distressing that some are even forced to consider taking their own lives.

Perhaps David Cameron and George Osborne will be more concerned about the protests planned in Gloucestershire or Hastings or Islington. When Sussex and the Shires stand with Glasgow and Birmingham, the public start to realise that something must really be wrong. Hastings plan to lay a trail of red drops, all the way to London and the breadth of the protests show that this isn't a minority problem - it's affecting millions of people from all backgrounds, all colours and all creeds in every town and village of the UK.

As with One Month Before Heartbreak The internet will be awash with bloggers and linkers and tweeters and Facebookers telling the world their messages, so do please join in even if you just send this article to three friends - you will be making an enormous difference to how these cuts are perceived and getting the protests in front of a wider audience.

If you need a little inspiration, then please watch this on YouTube : "Danny's Speech, Brassed Off, 1996"

If you watch nothing else today, then click on the link above - just a moment away from the kitten that can count or the bloke who can put his legs up his nose. You see, we've been here before. We don't have the luxury of saying, "Oh well, they'll be fine, they'll get through, we all just need to tighten our belts" because sick and disabled people often can't get through. They can't get out to protest and they wouldn't have the energy even if they did. If the miners were broken men in the 80s, then imagine how those who can't physically fight will be affected as they are targeted in the same way in 2011?

For those who can get to a protest today, thank you. For every person there today, there are 10, 50, maybe a thousand people at home, willing you on and manning the keyboards. If the recently departed Pete Postlethwaite from the tremendous clip above is watching, then I think he would be willing you on too.

**If you want to read testimonials from the sick and disabled and learn more about why ATOS and politicians are making a dreadful mistake over ESA and DLA, please do take a few minutes to read some of their powerful stories by clicking on the One Month Before Heartbreak link.


  1. >> ATOS uses "medical professionals" to assess whether someone is sick enough or disabled enough to receive state support, but they aren't doctors or nurses.<<

    They mostly are doctors and nurses, they just aren't behaving in a professional manner. The 43 minutes they are allocated to both conduct the assessment and write the resulting report is grossly inadequate, while the heavily scripted format, with its reliance on one-word answers dictated by the software is completely inappropriate to the complex, counter-intuitive and individual nature of disability.

  2. One thing I do not understand is why when the coalition are cutting public services and jobs are the giving huge contracts to private companies like ATOs for them to check, assess and re assess sick and disabled people out of existance. Being put on the dole queue won't cure us of our ills, yet the plan looks to be to put millions of us right there. Of course there are some like me who were part of the 'happy few' for a while, that was until we were told our benefits would be means tested after a year. The whole nature of the cuts, of who we are being made to be, of how we must think of ourselves, is making me feel weak. Like I am laying in bed the duvet pull around me while a dark thief in the night stalks the hallway. It is ironic that the next thought is about reaching for a iron poker from beneath my bed, but if I had the ability to fight off the thief he would not dare to be in my house would he. Easy targets that's what we are. A war against the poor, the sick and the disabled is a war the Con Dem coalition government can win Hurahh (as the Americans say)

  3. Would you mind please asking the person who does ''rage against the coalition' page to allow anon comments - It wont let me make an acct so I have no choice.

    Or could you say for me on their latest post of today the below.

    Sorry to bother you - didnt know who else to turn to. Thank you.

    I tried to say on their todays post...

    This govt will be handing us all euthanasia packs soon. We are scum to them - doesnt matter how sick we are we are crap - we mean nothing - we are just to be got rid of. Never mind the fact that alot of disabled people paid tax and still do pay tax, we are still all scum. I DID NOT CHOOSE TO BE DISABLED.

    Fact = This Govt are scum, both Con and LibDems they are noth scum. They are taking us backwards in humanity and ***It has been said that you can judge a society by how it treats its weakest members*** - WELL DOESNT THAT JUST SAY IT ALL!

    shame you dont allow anon comments - had to make one up to get this comment in here

  4. Hi Anon, sorry about that. I did used to allow anonymous comments but having had some people attack me under it I decided against. I have cross posted the piece on here now. Thanks.

    I agree too. They seem to think we are a separate species, not people, just 'disabled'. As if we didn't have enough to cope with